Theresa May returns from the Easter recess facing pressure from all quarters of her party to consider her position as prime minister – but secure in the knowledge that there remains very little they can do to force her to go. Here’s a look at the pressure points on her.
Most Tory MPs believe the only way to force May from office would be for a mass delegation of cabinet ministers to tell her that her time is up. For now, that seems unlikely – Tory cabinet ministers who have an eye on the leadership are less keen to see a contest before the first phase of Brexit has been delivered.
Cabinet ministers are also unlikely to act as a bloc, with remainers and leavers in the cabinet showing no sign of acting together. Should May decide to agree some form of closer customs arrangement as a means of getting Labour to back the deal, then it could prompt some cabinet walkouts, such as the international trade secretary, Liam Fox. However, even two or three resignations are unlikely to persuade May to step down.
For now, May is protected from a binding challenge to her leadership by a party rule that means she has a year’s grace after winning a vote of no confidence in December. The 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers could change the rules to allow a challenge sooner – a move which could convince the prime minister to go of her own accord.
Opinion is split on the committee. Nigel Evans, the committee’s joint executive secretary, said the process for selecting a new leader “can’t start soon enough” but others are known to be more cautious.
The committee, which will meet and vote on Tuesday, could decide to scrap…